On Wednesday, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)and other United Nations agencies and partners, launched a campaign to encourage Caribbean and Latin American countries to reduce maternal mortality, which increased by 15% between 2016 and 2020.
Around 8,400 women die each year in the region from complications in pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum.
High blood pressure, severe bleeding, and complications from unsafe abortion are the most common causes.
However, PAHO says nine out of ten of these deaths are preventable through quality care, access to contraception and by reducing inequities in access to care.
“Too many women, particularly indigenous, Afro-descendant, migrant, low-income and less educated women, continue to die during pregnancy and childbirth,” Dr. Jarbas Barbosa, PAHO Director, said during the launch of the campaign on International Women’s Day.
“It is time to urgently invest in maternal health and change this unacceptable reality,” Barbosa stated.
Zero Maternal Deaths. Prevent the preventable seeks to accelerate progress towards the regional goal of less than 30 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births outlined in PAHO’s Sustainable Health Agenda for the Americas.
Last year, the maternal mortality ratio – the number of maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in Latin America and the Caribbean – was 68 per 100,000 live births.
According to PAHO, the COVID-19 pandemic caused a 20-year setback in maternal health in the region.
As a result, there was a 15% increase in maternal mortality between 2016 and 2020, following a 16.4% reduction between 1990 and 2015.
“If we want to get back on track with reducing maternal mortality we must address the socioeconomic, gender, ethnicity, education and geographical inequities that lead to the death of so many women,” Suzanne Serruya, Director of PAHO’s Latin American Center of Perinatology, Women and Reproductive Health (CLAP) said.
“Doing so requires the involvement of all sectors of government and society,” she noted.
SOURCE: Pan American Health Organization/SLT